A CHARITY has urged MSPs to take action and set up an independent food commission amid fears that the cost of living crisis will cause older people to become malnourished.
Food Train is concerned that spiralling bills are putting a growing number of over 65s in increased danger of becoming malnourished and seriously ill.
Food Train Chief Executive Michelle Carruthers was among the experts who signed a letter to Public Health Minister Maree Todd calling for an independent food commission to be set up under the Good Food Nation Bill.
Food Train warned that MSPs cannot miss the opportunity to put the right to food at the heart of the new policy working its way through the Scottish parliament.
The charity, a member of the Scottish Food Coalition, is currently carrying out research into the impact of the cost of living crisis on older people.
A previous study suggested that as many as 30% of over-65s are already at risk of becoming malnourished.
Ms Carruthers is calling on politicians of all parties to ensure the establishment of the commission is added to the Bill as it is considered in Parliament in June.
She said: “We need action – and now. The cost-of-living crisis is deepening the under-recognised problem of worrying numbers of older people who struggle to eat properly.
“Many are at risk of becoming seriously ill, adding to the significant strains on our NHS and social care system.
“We have older people telling us that they are eating less, or having fewer warm meals, so they can pay rising bills.
“That’s scandalous, making what’s already an alarming problem even worse.
“The creation of an independent food commission could go a long way to tackling problems around food security and some of the injustices in our social care system.
“MSPs must seize the opportunity they have now to ensure this happens. It’s no exaggeration to say that lives depend upon it.”
Calls to create a commission were considered during committee discussions at Stage Two of the Good Food Nation Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
These were supported by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs. Further consideration is expected during the final debate in the Bill process, due to take place later in June.
Ms Carruthers added: “Food should glue all policy together. Successive administrations at Holyrood have struggled with this.
“Food sustains, nourishes and connects us. That’s why we are supporting the call for an independent food commission.”
Food Train works to tackle and raise awareness about malnutrition among older people throughout Scotland through its home shopping, meal sharing, befriending and other support services.
Its volunteers help people to live eat well in their homes, ensuring they can enjoy good food and company.